Feds Confiscate Record $29 Million BitCoin Booty From Dread Pirate's Hard Drive
When three weeks ago, the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht - the creator of the now shutdown Bitcoin-only "alternative" marketplace Silk Road also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, some were surprised that the Feds only confiscated about $3.6 million worth in Bitcoins from Ulbrecht. Proving all doubters wrong, and that creating the first "libertarian" marketplace not subject to any rules and regulations, not to mention fiat monetary constraints, actually does pay quite well, moments ago it was revealed that Federal prosecutors had found an additional $29 million, or 144,336 BitCoins, belonging to the Dread Pirate. According to Reuters, the booty was discovered on "computer hardware" belonging to Ulbricht. The repossessed electronic money, whose encryption technologies seem to leave a bit to be desired, has now been impounded and will likely remain on the FBI's hard disks indefinitely.
Authorities said the haul represented the largest ever Bitcoin seizure.
Ulbricht's lawyer could not be contacted on Friday evening (local time), but had previously told reporters his client denied the charges.
The currency, which has been in existence since 2008, first came under scrutiny by law enforcement officials in mid-2011 after media reports surfaced linking bitcoins to Silk Road.
The US Attorney's Office said with nearly 30,000 bitcoins previously seized, federal agents have now collected more than $US33 million in bitcoins based on current value.
Ulbricht is due to appear in court within weeks to face criminal charges of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
It remains to be seen if the Dread Pirate will be able to transact in prison using BitCoins. It also remains to be seen if leading hedge fund/PE firms such as Fortress, which recently voiced its support for BitCoin, will step in to fill the void left by Ulbricht's arrest realizing the great monetary potential - in either USD or BTC terms - to be reaped by providing the masses with what is a truly anonymous marketplace.
Finally, for those who missed it the first time, here is some additional information on the identity and motivation of the Ulbricht:
Who is the Dread Pirate Roberts?
The court documents described Mr Ulbricht, 29, as a former physics student at the University of Texas, who had gone on to study at the University of Pennsylvania between 2006 and 2010.
It was here, according to Mr Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile, as quoted by court documents, that his "'goals' subsequently 'shifted'".
He wrote on the social network that he had wanted to "give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" by "institutions and governments".
Authorities said he took to online forums to publicise Silk Road as a potential marketplace for drugs back in January 2011.
In one such message, a user believed to be Mr Ulbricht allegedly said: "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It's kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com."
Investigators said he used the same channels months later to recruit help - starting with a search for an "IT pro in the Bitcoin community".
The FBI said Mr Ulbricht would appear in San Francisco federal court later on Wednesday.
And more from NYMag:
The dark Internet's favorite massive drug marketplace, Silk Road, was shut down by the FBI last night and its alleged mastermind arrested on an array of colorful charges after a nearly two-year undercover operation.
Twenty-nine-year-old Ross Ulbricht, a.k.a. "Dread Pirate Roberts," was picked up in San Francisco and accused of running the underground e-warehouse while allegedly laundering money, trafficking narcotics, and even hiring a hit man to kill one of the site's users. Fittingly for a computer nerd, not a Heisenberg, he left a rich personal trail online.
According to the federal complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York, "Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today," enabling "several thousand drug dealers" to move "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs." The site's sales totaled about $1.2 billion in the form of 9.5 million Bitcoins (naturally). About $3.6 million in the Internet currency has been seized.
Ulbricht, though, wasn't exactly great at covering his tracks, attaching his name, photo, and personal e-mail address to Silk Road business, eventually resulting in his arrest.
Last year on his Google+ account, Ulbricht, who's now charged with facilitating the sale of drugs through the mail, asked, "Anybody know someone that works for UPS, FedEX, or DHL?"
On YouTube, Ulbricht ("ohyeaross") liked videos by Ron Paul, along with clips called "The Market for Security" and "How to Get Away With Stealing." (Of Paul, Ulbricht once told his Penn State Univeristy paper, "There's a lot to learn from him and his message of what it means to be a U.S. citizen and what it means to be a free individual.") Most recently, he followed the Vice channel.
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